Champaign, IL, United States
Champaign, IL, United States
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Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.99K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: CU Aerospace (CUA) and team partner the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) propose to perform research, development and demonstration of experimental quenching free measurements of heat-release in a realistic highly turbulent plasma-assisted flame. Kinetics models will be correspondingly updated and detailed 3D multiphysics simulations will be validated by the measurements. Current diagnostic tools are difficult to implement for 2D measurements of intermediate species to support the modeling and physical understanding of these complex processes. To fill this technology gap, this proposal implements innovative diagnostic techniques that will significantly increase measurement precision and greatly enhance knowledge of these plasmadynamic and chemical kinetic phenomena. This SBIR effort will lead to aircraft engine design improvements that will provide enhanced combustion stability and efficiency, reignition and flame holding for very high altitude, high-speed flight in Phase II of this program. These enhancements and understanding will have major implications for the expansion of aircraft mission envelopes, and our goal is to jointly develop with UIUC these diagnostic and software tools of choice for the industry.; BENEFIT: The Phase I results laid the foundation to develop a prototype diagnostic and modeling suite for comprehensive development and testing in the Phase II program. Incorporating the Phase I diagnostic techniques along with Air Force guidance for most desired features, the diagnostic and software suite will be enhanced and tested extensively in Phase II as a product demonstration unit. Applications of the developed approach include next generation warfighters capable of flying at higher altitudes and/or higher speeds, and technologies that would be used by engine manufacturers for the development of high-altitude propulsion systems, possibly enabling low-cost to space access via hybrid hypersonic launch. Commercial applications that utilize control of plasma enhanced combustion have the potential to fundamentally bring transformative changes to our combustion-based energy infrastructure by providing (1) the potential for flexible and broad integration of alternative fuels and plasma technology in our everyday lives; (2) more powerful and energy efficient combustion systems for power generation and transportation; (3) reduction of harmful pollutants in our environment; (4) improvements in national security from fuel blends with less dependence on foreign oil, and (5) a more sustainable and efficient energy infrastructure. Furthermore, plasma assisted chemistry could have broader impact in many other areas where it is beneficial to manipulate species content and reaction pathways, including plasma assisted processing of materials, environmental remediation of waste streams such as from smokestacks, and plasma lighting. The Phase II goal will initially be to optimize the diagnostic and software, and design features for Air Force specifications, followed by optimization for more commercial programs.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2015

Living systems rely on pervasive vascular networks to enable a plurality of biological function, exemplified by natural composite structures that are lightweight, high-strength, and capable of mass and energy transport. In contrast, synthetic composites possess high strength-to-weight ratios but lack the dynamic functionality of their natural counterparts. CU Aerospace, with team partners the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), North Carolina State University (NCSU), and Lockheed Martin, are utilizing a revolutionary microvascular technology developed at UIUC to build a composite counter-flow heat exchanger. This technology relies on 3D weaving of sacrificial fibers into a polymeric matrix, which are subsequently vaporized to obtain a uniform array of capillaries. By weaving these sacrificial fibers with a perpendicular array of carbon fibers and using computational modeling to optimize the design, this device can achieve good lateral thermal conductance while retaining very low axial conductance. Most Joule-Thomson heat exchangers are either metal finned-tube devices with limited surface area between the solid and gas streams, or etched-glass/silicon devices that allow relatively limited gas flow and cooling power. A micro-capillary array based heat exchanger offers the potential for both large surface area and large gas flow, with a manufacturing process that offers low-cost mass production.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT:CU Aerospace (CUA) proposes the development of the Monopropellant Propulsion Unit for CubeSats (MPUC) thruster, a breakthrough complete propulsion system technology for CubeSats and other small satellites, because of its high performance, nontoxic chemical monopropellant and benign storage characteristics. MPUC pushes the envelope of existing propulsion technologies by significantly increasing propellant storage density to provide >770 N-s total impulse and a thrust of 100 mN at 193 s specific impulse with an input power of ~3 W in a propulsion unit that fits entirely within a 0.5U volume plus hockey puck of a 3U CubeSat. MPUC uses a nontoxic propellant, with no special measures required for long-term storage. System pressurant is a self-pressurizing liquid, also used to provide cold-gas attitude control. MPUC provides a highly competitive total impulse in a small volume package, with a system lifetime estimated to be at least 3 years.BENEFIT:The baseline 0.5U MPUC offers CubeSats and other small satellites a complete propulsion system capability sufficient for significant orbital maneuvers with high impulse per unit volume. The propellant has no handling, storage, or operational restrictions beyond those of the CubeSat, and high thrust provides rapid response. CubeSats and nanosatellites with MPUC thrusters would enable a number of different significant missions for low Earth orbits including orbit raising and/or deorbiting. The drag makeup capability of MPUC systems would allow low altitude orbits, permitting onboard sensors to operate at lower altitude. MPUC would improve mission affordability for multiple CubeSats, since several CubeSats with MPUC could be launched from a single low-cost booster and maneuvered to other orbits, then later de-orbited. Note that MPUC is easily scalable to smaller or larger sizes, depending on mission and payload requirements, by changing the tank volume. Thus, the MPUC thruster provides a compact, non-hazardous, propulsion technology solution made available in a family of sizes that can meet the differing needs of users in DOD, NASA, industry, and academia for CubeSat and nanosatellite missions.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2016

Monofilament Vaporization Propulsion (MVP) is a new propulsion technology targeted at secondary payload applications. It does not compromise on performance while using safe, clean, propellant without storage or handling concerns. Potential issues with liquid propellants such as freezing and over-pressurization in the space environment do not apply to MVP as its propellant is a solid. MVP harnesses technology used in 3d printing applications to feed propellant into proven electrothermal propulsion technology developed by CU Aerospace to provide a safe and reliable system with high performance. The MVP concept accepts a variety of filament propellants, the leading candidate being a commercially available polymer. This should provide 900 N-s total impulse with a 1U (10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm) system. This imparts 250 m/s Delta-V to a standard 4 kg, 3U CubeSat. Target power consumption for MVP is less than 15 W, and the target price for MVP is $30K in order to encourage use on low budget missions.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.99K | Year: 2016

CU Aerospace and team partner the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign propose to develop a new type of plasma-based flow control actuator, which uses a high-voltage electrode that arcs to a cylindrical grounded electrode within a magnetic field. The result is that an arc plasma can be produced, with a Lorentz force that creates a plasma disc (similar concept to a cyclotron). The thought behind this concept is that the thermal actuator authority provided by the plasma arc is coupled with an induced swirl component into a boundary-layer flow, which will enhance mixing and allow flows to remain attached in high adverse pressure gradients. Effectively, the proposed actuator would function like vortex generators that one could enable or disable on command. This subsystem demonstration will pioneer a family of devices to address a notoriously difficult problem in active flow control.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.99K | Year: 2016

CU Aerospace (CUA) and team partner Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC) propose to develop a low-cost lightweight recuperative heat exchanger for High Power/High Efficiency cryocoolers, in support of Cryogenic Fluid Management for In-Space Transportation. Brayton cryocoolers are well suited for high cooling power space applications, especially those such as cryogenic propellant management that benefit from broad area cooling. However, Brayton recuperators are large, heavy and expensive. CUA and LMSSC have been developing a robust ultra-compact recuperative heat exchanger for Joule-Thomson (JT) cryocoolers using CUA?s sacrificial fiber technology (VascTech). This technology relies on weaving warp sacrificial fibers with weft copper wires to make a 3D structure with excellent counterflow heat exchange, but low parasitic heat conductance. The proposed microcapillary recuperative heat exchanger (MRHX) requires much larger gas flow (for >150 W cooling at 90 K) than the JT recuperator, and the focus of this proposed work will be modifying and scaling up the heat exchanger for Brayton applications. This new recuperator material will reduce the mass and cost of Brayton coolers while offering improved thermal performance.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: CU Aerospace (CUA) and team partner the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) propose to perform research, development and demonstration of energy management optimization tools based upon existing UIUC and CUA expertise to expand the operational envelope of military and commercial vehicles (aircraft and automobiles). Such a subsystem control methodology will optimize aircraft power generation, distribution, utilization, and associated thermal management based upon potential tactical vehicle operational power requirements and environmental conditions. Current approaches are not capable of dynamically allocating resources in a model-based approach. Additionally, there is a gap in the ability to rapidly reconfigure an energy/power allocation strategy based on a specified objective function whilst satisfying hard constraints on the system state. To fill this technology gap, this proposal introduces innovations that will produce the industry standard for aircraft energy management software. Phase I demonstrated the viability of the CUA-UIUC control approach, and this Phase II SBIR effort will lead to design improvements that will provide a validated enhanced aircraft subsystem and control suite by the end of this program. These enhancements will have major implications for the expansion of aircraft mission envelopes, and our goal is to jointly develop with UIUC the aircraft energy management software tools of choice for the industry. BENEFIT: The Phase I results laid the foundation to develop a prototype control suite for comprehensive development and testing in the Phase II program. Incorporating the Phase I algorithms and software tools along with Air Force guidance for most desired features, the optimization control suite will be enhanced and tested extensively in Phase II as a product demonstration unit. Applications of the developed control approach include next generation tactical fighter, advanced mobility, or related platforms. Commercial applications include more electric aircraft, construction and mining vehicles, and hybrid-electric automobiles. The Phase II goal will initially be to expand the approach of Phase I, optimize the software, and design features for Air Force specifications, followed by optimization for more commercial programs.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 750.00K | Year: 2014

CU Aerospace proposes to perform design, fabrication, and ground test validation of a nanosat primary propulsion subsystem using non-toxic R134a propellant. Our approach, called CubeSat High Impulse Propulsion System (CHIPS), leverages CU Aerospace's very high efficiency warm-gas variant of an innovative resistojet that significantly boosts the performance of standard cold-gas systems with the existing Micro Propulsion System (MiPS) thruster technology development by our team partner, VACCO Industries. The MiPS system has been tested to 200,000 cycles without any technical issues, demonstrating excellent reliability. A 1.5U CHIPS subsystem, using non-toxic R134a propellant, is a compact thruster system having a total impulse of 680 N-s and a fully throttleable continuous thrust of 30 mN. The subsystem also includes an R134a 3-axis cold-gas attitude control system to replace reaction wheels. Approximately 25 W of primary power is required from a lithium-ion battery included in the 1.5U package. This low-cost subsystem demonstration will pioneer a family of nanosat propulsion systems, which will become available to the CubeSat and nanosatellite communities for orbit change, de-orbit, precision maneuvering, and drag makeup missions.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Navy | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 80.00K | Year: 2015

CU Aerospace (CUA), teamed with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), proposes to research, develop, and demonstrate thermal management simulation tools for next-generation two-phase cooling systems designed for transient high heat-flux naval applications. The software developed in this program can be used to evaluate advanced thermal management designs for critical emerging naval electronics applications (e.g. radar, railguns, and directed-energy). The improved heat transfer, increased power density, and reduced packaging size achievable with two-phase designs are advantageous when compared to single-phase cooling (e.g. water flow). However, active control features are required to address temperature variation, thermal lag, flow instabilities, and critical heat flux not found in current state-of-the-art single-phase systems. Addressing this, the proposed program introduces innovative tools for simulating two-phase systems which can serve as an industry standard for evaluating and optimizing naval thermal management designs. Phase I efforts will focus on component model development and preliminary experimental validation, serving as a basis for advanced multiple-cold-plate architecture pursued in Phase II. The toolset produced in this program will have major implications for the future designs of two-phase thermal management systems in warships, offering a comprehensive approach for reducing size, weight, and power consumption, while improving thermal load handling.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2016

CU Aerospace, in partnership with the University of Illinois propose the further development of a new sparse nonlinear programming architecture that exploits parallelism at three levels. The Nonlinear Parallel Optimization Tool (NLPAROPT) is a black-box NLP solver intended to take advantage of multicore processors and distributed processing super computers alike to vastly improve the time-to-solution for optimization problems. It has been built with NASA trajectory optimization problems in mind, but can be applied to any class of NLP problem. By parallelising not only the basic linear algebra, but also the derivative calculation, problem formulation, and sparse aspects of typical problems, significant speed improvements are achievable by comparison to existing open source and commerical NLP solvers.

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